Monday, 24 June 2013

End of the Old Blog - Meet the new Blog

This blog has come to an end but will rise again like a phoenix at my new blog In My Feed where Linux related posts will be found under the 'Linux' category.

Image credit (CC): Phoenix II by *amorphisss on devientART

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Compact Gwibber Theme

I've been using Gwibber for my twitter account. I like Gwibber but it doesn't display as many posts in the window as Twhirl which I was using back when I used Windows. I don't want to install Adobe Air just for use with my twitter acount (although I may do so for the iPlayer). The answer was to hack myself a new theme that was more compact. I had found a theme from called gw-mod which claimed to be more compact. It was more compact but not by much more, but the fact that it existed prompted me to have a go at my own.

I based my theme on gw-mod, but made the following changes:
- reduced the font sizes
- reduced the radius on the corners
- reduced the margins and padding on all the items
- set a black background
- removed the 1 pixel black shadow on the text (not needed with the darker background)

If you use Gwibber for things other than Twitter I may have broken some of the style sheet settings as I made changes throughout the CSS in the theme's HTML file, but have only tested against Twitter.

If you like the theme and wat to try it. I have linked here to an archive of my theme which I named scb-compact.

Each has a its own folder containing the theme components. The folder names appear as the theme name in the Gwibber->Preferences dialogue. To install the theme just unpack the archive file into the Gwibber theme's directory. On my Ubuntu machine the themes directory is at '/usr/local/share/gwibber/ui/themes'.

The themes directory is not writable with your standard user account so you will need to use sudo to raise your privileges to do so. These are the steps to install:

1. Download the scb-compact.tar.gz file to your home directory
2. Open the terminal from Applications->Accessories
3. Run the following commands entering your login password when prompted:
> cd /usr/local/share/gibber/ui/themes
> sudo tar -xvf ~/scb-compact.tar.gz
4. Exit the terminal using [Ctrl] D or typing exit
5. In Gwibber->Preferences select the theme scb-compact

Friday, 12 December 2008

Linux Podcasts

Podcasts are a fantastic way to learn a little bit more about any subject, whilst driving, shopping or doing other chores. There's a whole heap of them available too, you can find a comprehensive list at The Linux Link. Having listened to a few there are two that I'd highly recommend; Linux Outlaws and the Ubuntu UK Podcast.

Ubuntu Uk Podcast banner

Covering just Ubuntu, the Ubuntu UK Podcast is suitable for any age. It's hosted by a group of co-hosts and the content is generally well informed.

Linux Outlaws logo

The Linux Outlaws podcast is very entertaining, covers a whole heap of open source software topics, but is not always suitable for children. The hosts Dan and Fab communicate their enthusiasm for Linux in a distinctive and amusing way, keeping the audience up to date on the latest software releases and Open Source news. They have an excellent theme tune which I think Dan wrote and played. If something is not really up to scratch there's no beating around the bush Fab's going to call it Crap! Their regular Microwatch feature is always fun too.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Fantastic Service from LinuxEmporium

Just had to blog about the fantastic customer service I've experienced from LinuxEmporium. I had to replace the wireless network card on one of our PCs, in the past I've had a lot of grief setting up Belkin cards to work on Linux, so this time I decided to get a known compatible card. LinuxEmporium offer cards that have tested with various Linux distributions. I ordered the card, which arrive promptly, but did not work. I emailed back some diagnostic information to LinuxEmporium and Quentin immediately mailed me back offering to replace the card and requesting that I return the faulty card. The next day a new card arrived along with the postage for return of the original card.

Any supplier can have a duff card in their stock, not many make it such a painless experience, I even got a thank you for returning the duff card. All in all I'd call that excellent service.

Friday, 28 November 2008

SuSE on a VMware image

I finally have a real reason to use a Linux machine for work, it was going to happen sooner or later, Linux is becoming recognised as a viable alternative, more readily.

For the current project its useful to have an example of the Documentum system in order to demonstrate and exercise use case examples. The latest version of Documentum 6.5 when installed on a Windows Server with SQL Server 2005 gets really resource hungry, which can be really challenging when trying to run it in a virtual machine on a moderately well specified laptop. Fortunately the Documentum product set is now certified for install on Linux.

So for the current project I'm working on, we are using a SuSE VM to run a database (Oracle), Documentum Content Server and an Apache Tomcat application server. Playing around with Ubuntu in my home machine has proved to be a good enough intro for me to get to grips with this SuSE image.

Like Ubuntu, SuSe is available with the Gnome or KDE desktop, because its lighter we are using Gnome. The main differences I'm noticing is that the SuSE distribution uses a different method of managing the application packages, different configuration tools, and a different menu system for starting desktop applications.

The SuSE Gnome desktop is configured differently from Ubuntu, has a different menu system, showing just a few apps initially then showing the rest in a separate window after you click on the more applications button. The only real change necessary was to move the toolbar to the top of the window, as that’s more convenient when viewing a virtual machine in a small console window with scroll bars. Because its working offline there is a window that continually pops up with an error, something to do with software update checking, I guess. Occasionally that little window hangs and cannot be closed so I added the little toolbar applet that lets you kill applications, so I can easily get rid of it when it happens (this would be handy in XP too). I also added an exit button applet as on SuSE this is hidden in the menu system like on XP.

Red Hat and SuSE (Novell) both use Yast (yet another setup tool), this pulls all the admin tools into one framework. Yast has proved to be quite useful in setting the OS up to fit our requirements. Yast was also useful to stop and start services as our image did not always (read often) manage to start the Documentum content server service.

So do I like SuSE? Well it works OK and seems fairly robust, no unexpected crashes despite a lot of fiddling about with system settings. As I’m not downloading standard packaged applications on SuSE, I can’t really comment on the relative merits of the RPM (Redhat package manager) versus the Debian apt package tools. I prefer the configuration choices for Gnome that Ubuntu uses to those of the SuSE distribution though.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Hardy Heron Upgrade causes no real problems

I've not really had a lot to blog about here lately, since everything has pretty much run well without trouble.

The Hardy Heron upgrades on all 3 platform, Old Celeron, Whizzy Core 2 duo machine and the VMware image. The one thing worthy of note is the fact that I was asked if I wished to retain some device configuration file change that I had made during the original install to get the wireless networking to run. On the Whizzy machine it all just worked.

On the old Celeron an additional software download was required as I had needed to use fwcutter to get the Belkin Broadcom BC43 based wireless card to work. Once wired back up to the router with a cable I was able to re-enable the Device driver in the Hardware Drivers utility, which caused it to download and update the neccesary packages and automatically download the correct windows driver files and manipulate them to work with Linux. After which I jut had to disconnect the cable to the router and select the wireless network in the connection applet.

Setting up the wireless on the previous version of Ubuntu had taken me a whole evening using support information from the Ubuntu forum. The Hardy Heron update just worked. I wonder if Hardy would have just worked with this hardware configuration if it had been a fresh install? I suspect it might have Ubuntu seems to be getting better all the time.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Linux rescues Windows XP laptop

Linux to the rescue again. I had an acquaintance who had inherited a laptop, due to this circumstance they were unable to get past the windows login password. Using the Trinity Rescue Disk again I was able to boot into a Linux command console and use the 'winpass' script to remove (overwrite) the admin password. After a reboot this enabled me to log into the machine as Administrator and remove the user password rendering the machine usable again without a complete re-build and any potential damage to the contents.

This won't work for all Windows machines, particularly avoid doing this if you the machine is using encrypted file system, as you might loose all the data. Basically only use these tools if you know what you are doing. For a totally non-destructive approach Windows Password Recovery claims to be able to crack 98.5% of passwords in a reasonable time without writing to the machine's disk, so that might be worth a try.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Oh no a windows Game

A relation has bought a Windows PC game with cute puppies in it, for my youngest daughter. I've had to explain how when software has PC written on the front of the box, it really means for Microsoft Windows. This is the first real insurmountable issue that we've had. Although there's a win32 API simulator called Wine, I'd be surprised if it will be able to allow this kind of 3d graphics software to work.

Maybe I'll give it a try if I get time though.

For now she'll have to ask to borrow her eldest sister's laptop, on the up side if she can successfully achieve that it will be a good life skill for her.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

It just works

My son's PC is very rarely booted into Windows now. He seems to prefer using Ubuntu Linux to Windows, I wasn't expecting that. He commented that it was quite like his friends Apple machine, which I though was a very insightful comment on his part, since Apple's OSX is based on BSD UNIX so could be expected to be more similar to Linux than Windows.

I was expecting a lot of 'Dad how do I make it do...?' type questions, but there's been none of that at all, on the whole it just works. I asked him how he was managing with connecting his iPod and he said that was fine, he just plugged it in and something like iTunes just popped up. He showed me, he plugged it in and sure enough Rythmbox popped up with his iPod contents there ready for use. When I asked what he used windows for when he did boot into it, he said mainly to get to files that were in the windows system (although on install it copied everything over from his windows ID, it seems that items on the desktop do not get pulled across). So I showed him how to mount and unmount the windows drive in the file manager application, now he only rarely needs to access Windows.

My 8 year old daughter is finding her way around the old Celeron box OK too. I added the music player to the launch bar for her so that she could get to the music easily. Later that day I found that she'd added her favourite game to the launchbar too. She's quite capable of using the machine and is enjoying the the Tux Type typing tutor as well as the games and the Internet. So it seems that Linux is easy enough for an 8 year old to get to grips with.

Once its up and running on your hardware, Ubuntu is a very workable alternative to Windows. So in the case of my sons PC this has been totally painless. However if the hardware is not readily recognised by the default installation, as in the case of the wireless and graphics card on the old Celeron machine, it can be challenging for a non expert. That said its currently possible to by a new 'Linux ready' machine for only £130 from eBuyer (at time of writing), that would be perfectly suitable for office use.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Stuff to read

Ok here are some links that might be of interest.